Having started out as a solo consultant recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up my first three clients. I’m doing all sorts of exciting things from creative direction and project management, through to brand strategy, business strategy, workshop facilitation, design thinking and innovation and problem-solving. All of these come together to help my clients stand out and be more meaningful. I’m absolutely loving it.
Me, working in an office in Toronto last year
When speaking to new potential clients I’m in a comfortable position to set out how I like to work. This has got me to thinking about a set of principles by which I hope to continue my consultancy practice. These principles are different to the 'paid hourly' model I have been used to in my career - but I like them for reasons I'll disclose in a moment. See what you think:
My consultancy practiCe principles for working
Time - It is the most precious commodity. I control it. I don’t sell it. I do not have a rate card of hourly costs.
Value - This is what I sell. I focus on the result. I bill according to it.
Solo - I’m independent, free-thinking and untied to organisational politics. No staff. Just me.
Lean - I keep my overheads to a minimum. I use a laptop, work in a home studio, coffee shops or co-working spaces.
Transparency - Complete disclosure. What you see is what you get.
People - I work for human leaders, not for companies or organisations. I collaborate with other experts when needed to get the job done.
Design thinking, agile working
Why do I like these principles for working? Well, the above principles allow me to be more agile, focused on solving problems collaboratively and applying the principles of design thinking in ways I have never been able to do before.
This is hugely different from how I have worked in the past as a creative leader in employment or in running my own business. Throughout my career, I have always felt the machinery of business, overheads, the selling of time, siloed departments, management, the structure of paying employees, fluffy sales patters, the traditional design process, plus many other factors have been holding me back from doing great work.
With my principles for work at play, I am free of such constraints. Instead, they encourage:
Trust - Trust to get the job done in the right way. Trust to be given the tools to do it. Honesty is a big part of me and, like those I do business with, I value integrity.
Problem-solving - If you are paying me for a result, my brain is laser-focused on that result. Not the time it takes to get there.
Partnership - I am a partner with my client - not a commodity. I have already helped conduct workshops with leaders and other experts to connect their minds to solving problems and imagining possible futures. No politics.
Agility - This very week I was involved in getting the right heads in the room to cut what usually would take 4 weeks down to 1 week. A focused sprint which got the job done. Quality was not compromised.
Creativity - Coming in from outside an organisation there is no baggage of history or concern for future promotion. This allows for creativity and a different way of thinking to be brought to bear on the situation.
I've realised the above can only truly happen if my principles are maintained. In the modern fast-paced world we live in now, this is what businesses need. Teams motivated by solving the problem not simply getting paid for their time. Ways of working fast without baggage stopping progress. In the post-industrial era where design thinking, customer empathy and creativity are at the heart of business success, it would not surprise me to see more and more of us working in this way.
So - there are my principles for working and the positive reasons for them. Will they change in time? We will see. But as long as I'm finding people are willing to pay for me to help them on the basis of them I will keep on keeping on.
How about you? What are your principles for working?